24 Hours in Paris
You know what they say about Paris? All that stuff about how it’s romantic and beautiful and always a good idea? Well if you believe all that then maybe you should stop reading this post.
I’m sorry. I feel bad. It’s not Paris, it’s me. I just… why would you go to Paris when you could go to London? London, guys!
I spent a miserable weekend in Paris wishing that I could go home to London, like, immediately, but I did get to see some pretty beautiful things, and also have a quick breakfast date with my pal Chelsey who was in Paris for a layover on her way home from South Africa.
And Paris is beautiful. I mean parts of it are really, really stunning. And I guess the Seine is okay. And I had a pain au chocolat that wasn’t completely disgusting, and I kept stumbling across the most incredible street art, and I found an amazing fountain with deck chairs but apart from that – totally unbearable. 😉
The Eurostar was probably the most fun I had all weekend. Honestly, that thing is so cool. They have a buffet cart, wifi, plug sockets, and they don’t have to check tickets so you can sleep with your face pressed awkwardly against the window for the whole three hours. It’s a great system.
I was so, so excited to arrive in Paris and, honestly, massively disappointed that I couldn’t see the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre when I stepped triumphantly out of the station. The area around the Gare du Nord is very ‘up and coming’ though, so it made me feel right at home. I think the little dodgy back streets were the part of Paris that I liked the most. I had a whole route figured out for my first day so I trekked through the Northern quarter and up to Sacre Coeur and Montmartre, enjoying the view from the top of the steps and browsing the art shops, restaurants and Parisian cafés before heading all the way back downhill, finding street art and pretty shuttered windows grown over with plants.
I’d heard about Guerrisol Vintage and was excited to check it out, but I didn’t find anything worth carrying home and instead spent a great deal of time sulking in a Starbucks and using the free wifi to complain on the internet.
After sulking, drinking hot chocolate and muttering angry phrases in my slightly lapsed secondary school French, I set out to find the Shakespeare and Company bookshop. This turned out to be the most incredible little wonderland full of literally every kind of book you could imagine, plus loads of places to sit in amongst the old wooden book shelves, and an entire second floor devoted to poetry books and anthologies. Apart from the fact that they wouldn’t let me take photos inside (how am I supposed to have fun if I can’t document it for the internet?!), I spent a really long time browsing through all the different titles and exploring the mazelike interior (somewhere in amongst the narrow stairs and bookcases there’s a small bedroom where travellers can stay for a few weeks at a time in exchange for their work at the shop).
After that, I just wanted to wander around and pretend that I was in a sad music video. Notre Dame was suitably sombre and incredible, and by the time I’d finally made it back to the Northern quarter where my hostel was, I’d found a few really decent vintage stores and a Vegan burger restaurant and I was almost ready to stop sulking and start thinking that Paris might be okay after all. At night time. When it’s too dark to see what it all looks like. 😉
I had a pretty surreal night sleeping in a twelve-bed dorm in a busy hostel, and by the time it was time to meet Chelsey at 6am I had already been awake for two hours listening to a Spanish guy talk on the phone to his girlfriend. I was too awkwardly British to ask him to be quiet, but I did sigh quite loudly on multiple occasions so I think he got the message.
Chels and I met, pretty romantically, under the Eiffel Tower, and then walked along the river, found a street market for some breakfast, and made our way down the Champs Elysee to the Louvre. It was really quiet because it was so early in the morning, and we spent a lot of time lying on the deckchairs next to the fountains which lead up to the Louvre, enjoying the sun, chatting, and complaining about how the McDonalds on the Champs Elysee is the worst that we have ever visited in our entire lives.
That being said, the Louvre is really pretty and probably my favourite thing to do in the city, so we took the obligatory tourist photos, mucked around in front of the glass pyramid and then Chelsey left to catch her plane, and I went to find a Starbucks to sulk in.
The Starbucks turned out okay – at one point an old man sat next to me and complained about ‘how untidy women are nowadays’, which was kinda funny, and he was really very sweet for an elderly misogynist. After he left a family came in and started eating roasted chestnuts. They very sweetly offered me some to try, and I discovered that Parisians are not as rude as I had thought (and also that roasted chestnuts taste like mouldy sponges).
Paris was cool, for a little while, but it mostly sucked.
Don’t let me put you off – I’ve been to Paris before with family and we had a good time – but if you’re planning a trip to Paris I would probably suggest going to London instead. You know, just an impartial opinion. 😉
Thanks for listening to me moan about Paris – it really is beautiful so I hope you at least enjoyed seeing all the photos!
I guess I’m a London baby all the way, so stay tuned for plenty more posts about cities that I actually like, or check here for my previous London posts.